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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  February 15, 2013 12:30am-1:00am EST

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from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with the legendary rock singer eric burdon. this marks the 50th anniversary of the animals. his new album is called "til your river runs dry!." there is a u.s. tour also under way. we are glad you joined us. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing.
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we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hungerwalmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. tavis: this month marks the 50th anniversary of the animals. eric burden's career has continued as a solo artist and with a group war.
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his latest album is called "til your river runs dry!" >> ♪ mother, tell your children, not to do what i have done ♪ ♪ spend your life in sheer misery, in the house of the rising sun ♪ tavis: does it feel like five decades?
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>> if i look at some of them. >> you did not like that suit? >> not really. thought was a time. it was so rough doing stuff like that. it was shot at 9:00 in the morning, and it was shot in a pan of vision, and why and blends, you are not ready for that kind of stuff.
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i was happy without sonders and what about allow me to do. i would not be sitting here if it did not work for me tavis:: you were referring to a recording at 9:00 in the morning. i want to refer back to the phrase. were you ready for all the success of that came? some handled it pretty well. some were ready for it. many were not. if you look back at it, were you ready for all the success? >> i was ready for the action, but i was not ready for what was between that, and after being i
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agonize, people remember you as you were then. they want you to be got all the time, so that is the construction on the individual. i can only compare it with movies and actors. they get to play different roles, but i am stuck in that role. tavis: every artist to becomes iconic house to navigate that journey. how do you think you have been able to navigate finding a way to move beyond what is expected. i am a music lover, and i am
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guilty of not wanting them to stretch. there is discomfort sense often hear. fgcu a certain way, but how you think you have navigated the journey? >> i have. i grew up listening to people like roland kirk. when he walked onstage, there was no plan. you never know which way it is going to go. that was the genius. they said, always put a different thumbprint on the performance.
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you are moving ahead, and you are dealing with keeping that alive improvisation into it. if i can improvise within those songs, i am a lucky guy, but you can take that too far as well. i sang that song so many times i can make it into a mini play. i can eros and launch into new orleans songs and then come back. as long as you come back to the same. common on who should be able to do what you want to do -- at the
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same point, you should be able to do what you want to do. tavis: another question about this particular era, what in your mind is the greatest gift from that era? what is the greatest gift to us musically from that airline -- era? >> i would say the beatles, their scope of right thing is so vast, and it is still around today, and it is so fresh today, so twohault dwot d be one thing. , he was the first guydrix's
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did did not shy away from stereo. it was exciting and new. stereo ruined rock-and-roll. rock-and-roll was initially for jukebox performances. each guy has hinted -- his own way of mixing. they had been grooves, and it hit you right between the eyes, and stereo came along, and everything got really spread out.
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it died for a while until the brits put their hands into the bottom of a garbage bin and pulled out the black music, and they have forgotten what they had. it is what i grew of on. >> that was a strong indictment of u.s. culture, and they agree with you. what was happening across the pond when all you white guys were so influenced by rhythm- and-blues, by jasmine?
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= = -- by jazz. take me back to that era. >> i have been talking to people, and he said, apart from myself, who viewfinders of toronto -- who do you find yourself drawn to? i said ray charles. i have my own opinion about what he is doing, but ray charles allowed me to reach jazzmen who would not even consider speaking the words.
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they said, this is a different guy all together. it allowed me to sing, because i was only choice. i cut a jazz record when i was 17 years of age. you could play it 20 times, and then it would turn white. >> if they really like your record they go out and buy another one. 20 times and that is innocent -- is it. >> it was a strange experience.
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i knew we had to get to america. i will give you one instance. i took a taxi, and i used to like to drink. stop of a bar and let me get a whiskey. for it was a circular building, and it was a black nightclub, and i stopped, and the people i met at the bar, and i am stuck between those guys. somebody brought a microphone over.
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there was singing at the bar. tavis: what you think of your voice? you reference your voice again, but what have you made of this voice that is yours? >> i have learned a lot, and i am still learning a lot. wake up, and straightened up. there is no editing. your voice changes as you are touring. i was talking to a fellow singer in england, maggie bell, and she says, i never worry about the condition. if it goes, just pretend you
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are louis armstrong. that is great advice, because it does happen. your voice changes, but i believe the reason i did a good performance on this particular album is i fell and broke my back. i had six months where i was not allowed to do anything. my voice had a lot of time to relax, and that is what i say to a lot of people who ask what we do to keep our voice in shape. try to relax when you can. tavis: i am glad you went there. you're back to put you in a
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position where you had to take some time off and relax your voice. that is part of the story, bruce springsteen. i love the story you have five south by southwest. tell me the story about how that inspired you to get back out there. >> he asked me, and i am not going to turn him down. i did once before, and i felt kind of guilty. i have a lot of respect for the guy. he is a great live performer. he is a powerhouse. he did a lot for me when he made those comments at south by
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southwest. tavis: the audience is asking what that refers to. he is trying to hit the mark that you said. is that fair? >> it is amazing he could see today what i was going through mentally back then on camera. he said that like the guy in which that little jacket on, he looked like my daddy swing. that is exactly the way i felt. third this was on film the first time he saw it was the ed sullivan show. >> you felt restricted?
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>> i did. >> you felt constricted pathetically? artistically? -- aesthetically? artistically? >> i dealt with the artistic side. i have got up space in the middle where i can twist the lyrics around and ship them to my own desires, which made any one of the worst with singers in history. that has been a constant performance battle to try to find my own self within the song. it is ok. i know i am on the right track,
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because the audiences tell me what they want to hear. tavis: when did you know the time was right for you to leave the animals and to the solo staying -- do the >> we were mismanaged completely. nobody knew where the money was going. we were told this and told that. we were touring america, and we were getting $200 a week per diem, which is the money we agreed to in england, but when we got to the states, nothing changed, and we were working so hard every night to the point where i would be collapsing after a show. it was ok. it was what we signed up for, but when you arrive in new york and you are sitting back in a hotel, and i can remember it
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well. they said, where were you guys. you were supposed to be at a meeting this morning. we were trying to get some rest, and there was nobody to back us up and help us. we were thrashed. we went -- we ended up making a record in the bahamas. we were on a boat in the day, and there was a fight started between the bass player. the bass player was to be ready to jump off the side of the vote. -- boat. we have been warned there were sharks around.
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he said, i have had enough of this. tavis: how did the war thing ?appened i >> the animals were over. i was in l.a., and i did not want to go to london and face the press. i love l.a.. it was great. i said, i am going to the actors studio. i signed up for the actors studio and had a great teacher, and i was doing well. i really enjoyed it. they said, if you want to do that, you have got to earn money in the field you are in.
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put a new band together. they said, we see you as a black band. i saw this events that had a trombone, trumpets, saxophone, bass. i said, we cannot take this on the road and make money. eventually we got it down to six brands and myself. -- bands and myself. it was wonderful for a couple years. it was really good, but the surprising thing was i got a shot. for the first time i realized black americans did not understand what the blues was all about.
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once it went on record, they sold. tavis: we have this conversation all the time, so i feel you on that. tell me about "til your river runs dry!" >> it began with a conversation -- a conversation with gorbachev. we got a song in the works. the problem is water in this
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world. for some people it is too little, and for some people it is too much. it is a wide and broad spectrum, but it is an important problem. >> you make social consciousness sound good. it is one thing people preach, but for you to sound good doing it and to list as an inspiration gorbachev's. >> when you are faced with someone you know does more than you, that is the only way you can learn. yes, that was the springboard that led to this. tavis: it has been nice to spend 30 minutes with someone who knows more than i do.
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the project is called "til your river runs dry!" he has been doing a solo thing and doing it well. that is our show for tonight. until next time, thanks for watching, and keep the faith. ♪ 12:00, and the place is packed ♪ ♪ kept on walking, going round and round ♪ time ♪a crazy today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm smtas viiley. join me next time for a conversation with
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laura dern on her acclaimed series, "enlightened." >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. by doing the right thing. to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart commteild $2 bs lion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. >> be more.
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